Lyle Zikes: How to Practice with Purpose

Lyle Zikes Veteran bowling writer Lyle Zikes offers up a fresh batch of practice tips in each issue of Bowlers Journal International.

It's great to practice; it's better to practice with a game plan. That's why each issue of Bowlers Journal International includes fresh practice tips from veteran bowling writer Lyle Zikes. Check out a sampling of those tips here, and start practicing with purpose!

The two-handed delivery: How to give it a try
If you’re older than 12 and have developed your game with a traditional swing motion, you are not a prime candidate to successfully convert to a two-handed bowling style. But if you are curious, go ahead and give it a preliminary try. Find a ball a couple of pounds lighter than usual and make at least 20 shots to see if your body and bowling instincts are receptive to the physical demands of such a motion.

How to make your two-handed transition permanent
After the initial try, if you don’t hate the feeling of swinging two-handed, and also see a significant increase in your rev rate/ball reaction, plan a six- to eight-week test period to practice the technique exclusively. Seek an open-minded coach who can analyze video to monitor your swing path (avoid lateral motion) and suggest footwork adjustments conducive to the style. After that, if you are a better bowler than you were before, consider the conversion permanent.

The key to converting a common spare
According to statistics from the 2017 PBA World Series of Bowling, the most frequently left multi-pin spare among the 195 bowlers in the tournament was the 3-6-10. Based on that evidence, it’s a spare shot that better bowlers should prepare for with a specific alignment and equipment strategy. The key is to get the ball to contact the right side of the 3-pin with a delivery that is not producing hook.

Picking up splits is not showing off
The next time a 6-7-10 or 2-4-10 pops up during practice, make a concerted effort to pick up those (and other) splits. Some might interpret it as an opportunity to show off, but it’s a great way to sharpen up your spare game. The margin of error for making such splits is less than an inch, but if you can convert them — and come close most other times — you’ll be able to use that heightened accuracy to shoot all spares.

Knowing your game helps you correct problems quickly
Nearly all bowlers experience the contrast between being razor sharp and being frustratingly off their game. Part of practice is to develop a personal checklist of the physical flaws that are most likely to creep into your game. Perhaps it’s too much forward spine tilt or an over-elongated key step. Whatever the issue, a well-practiced player is capable of fixing the situation quickly, while an unaware bowler may be in for an extended slump.

A benchmark video can detect flaws
As part of your practice routine, do some preemptive maintenance on aspects of your game that have proven troublesome before. Just because you worked out a timing problem two years ago doesn’t mean that old bugaboo will never return. If you create a benchmark video of yourself with rear and side views when your game feels sharp, you’ll have it readily available to provide a useful split-screen comparison when your game isn’t clicking.

To subscribe to Bowlers Journal International now for much more of the industry's best coverage of bowling news and incisive instructional tips and analysis, go here: /bowlers-journal-subscriptions/